«Non-nuclear fast global strike» and Russian nuclear forces

A few hours before President Barack Obama called in Berlin for the upcoming reduction of nuclear weapons, President Vladimir Putin delivered June 19, 2013 with a «pre-emptive» counterargument. He said: «We we see, that the world is rapidly developing non-nuclear precision weapons systems. In its impact abilities they approach the strategic nuclear weapons. Countries with such systems, it will also increase its own offensive capabilities. «

There is no doubt that Putin first meant the United States. Russian strategic community has repeatedly expressed concern about the fact that ordinary South American precision weapons can be dangerous for nuclear forces. The question of «strategic non-nuclear weapons», apparently, will be one of the main topics in future negotiations on arms control. Moreover, if the relationship between the U.S. and Russian crisis arises, quite severe, that they considered the possibility of the introduction of nuclear weapons, the horror of non-nuclear weapon could trigger a counterforce first nuclear strike.

In this regard, Russian bureaucrats and experts pay attention to one program from the South American Development mundane weapons under the heading «Non-nuclear frisky Global Strike» (NBGU) — an initiative to develop a non-nuclear weapon distant acts capable of rather short in terms of hitting targets at a distance bolshennom.

Namely, in 2007 Anatoly Antonov, who was then the post of Director of the Department for Security and Disarmament Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the concept frisky global strike (so then called programm NBGU) «in conjunction with a global missile defense becomes inventory gaining political and strategic predominance in the world. «

In turn, the Obama administration claims that NBGU «not bad impact on the stability of our relations with Russia and China in the nuclear field.» Indeed, although the administration of George W. Bush, and the Obama administration had read about the ability to use weapons, created under NBGU against nuclear forces of the enemy, the only potential targets mentioned in this connection — North Korea and Iran in the event of his transformation into a nuclear power, or when a similar specification was misplaced — «rogue states» or «regional enemies» (Our Fatherland U.S. military jargon is called differently — «almost equal competitor»). Moreover, the idea of ​​substituting a significant number of nuclear weapons ordinary, never enjoyed the special support of the U.S. government, is currently quite lost popularity. That there was no ambiguity, I note: the United States has long intrigued to develop ordinary weapons for implementation in cases where even limited nuclear strikes are not possible, but large-scale substitution of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear — another matter entirely.

Yet of course Moscow is not convinced that NBGU not undermine its nuclear deterrent. In this regard, questions arise: can NBGU technically constitute a danger to Russian nuclear forces and how politically Our homeland and the United States can do to strengthen the cooperation of mutual security?

Still, what it is — a non-nuclear global strike frisky?

As the goal is often called applets NBGU creating precision long-range weapons everyday capable for an hour to hit the target in at least some part of the globe. But now the programs from the center of mass shifted towards the development of systems that do not have global coverage. At this point, virtually all of the funding allocated to the creation of a «new generation of hypersonic weapons» — gliding warhead created for flight in the upper atmosphere, and accelerates the launch vehicle to hypersonic speeds (at least 5 times greater than the speed of sound). In the case of adopting the system is the latest generation of hypersonic weapons will be based on land and at sea, and have a range of 8 thousand kilometers. In the last military budget of the United States finance the development of a global system known acts — rocket-planning unit under the title «hypersonic aircraft-2» — after 2-unsuccessful flight tests, reduced almost to zero, and the status of the project is reduced to «program to reduce the technological the risks. «

In the current time programm NBGU is under research and development. The decision to adopt this system into service yet. But the Obama administration gives to understand that he wants to make a decision on its purchase in the coming couple of years.

When (and if) the process of making such decisions will, hypersonic weapon of last generation is likely to be not only the system under consideration. According to some featured Obama administration is exploring the development of the modern sea-based ballistic missile range crotch, which could be armed with manageable, maneuvering, but not planning to combat unit. Maybe it will be considered and adoption of hypersonic cruise missiles being developed under a separate applets, administratively non-NBGU. Eventually, as the Obama administration is committed to the principle of competition in defense procurement, military industry, maybe offer other ideas.

In addition, given the austerity measures economical savings made at the moment in the United States, there is a possibility that the programm is closed or the administration or Congress. Although Congress generally supports the concept NBGU, he abruptly bad refers to a number of specific projects in this area (including the conversion of ballistic missiles «Trident-D5» non-nuclear warheads). There is no guarantee that lawmakers authorize appropriations for the purchase of such instruments. And even in this case, if the system is accepted for service, deploying it likely will not begin until the mid-2020s.

Is gun NBGU danger to Russian Strategic Missile mines?

Ongoing debate in the U.S. regarding the implementation of funds NBGU against fortified or deep in the earth goals constantly in Russia cause concern about the viability of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) silo-based.

Penetrating warhead acts on media NBGU will have one advantage and one severe severe drawback in comparison with bombs, for example GBU-57, better known under the title «The penetrating munition high power.» This bomb was reportedly can penetrate up to 20 meters of concrete and is the most effective non-nuclear weapon betonoboynymi in the U.S. arsenal. The advantage of warheads delivered to the target means NBGU, is much greater speed. According to my calculations, they will be able to penetrate 30 to 40 meters of concrete. Same defect associated with a relatively small volume of non-nuclear explosive that they are able to bear (perhaps 10 times less than the GBU-57), which is why their destructive action will be significantly weaker.

Penetrating munition acts can kill based missiles, breaking cover mine and exploded in her trunk. Protective covers mines Russian missile RS-20 (SS-18) is reported to have a thickness of 1 meter and consist in the main of reinforced concrete. So Makar, very unlikely that this cap could provide protection against penetrating munitions act (whether or bomb warhead NBGU). As a result, one can imagine that a direct hit in the missile silo will destroy the missiles.

Difficult to answer another question: if a direct hit is not at what distance from the mine should be undermined penetrating ammunition to kill its contents? Eventually mine — a small target, and hit it hard to accurately (for example, the radius of the mine shaft RS-20, according to available data, is only 2.95 meters).

Even without getting into the mine shaft, penetrating munition act can cause severe harm to her, breaking through the thickness of the surrounding concrete or rock, where an explosion and its non-nuclear charge. Upon detonation on a good enough depth appears large crater. As demonstrated by the experiments, the explosion in the rock GBU-57 appears funnel radius of up to 8 meters, while the funnel with the detonation of penetrating munitions delivered by means NBGU be two and a half redundant. This difference says that with equal precision GBU-57, may be a more effective means of destruction of mines than NBGU gun (on the graph shows the possibility of hitting the target, regardless of the accuracy of hitting for both systems).

In terms of the level of a clear danger that a weapon will be NBGU for mines, these approximate calculations they say that to defeat a 90% chance silo-based ICBMs need accuracy rate near 3 meters. Such precision can be achieved in immaculate criteria hover using global positioning system (GPS). But the criteria of the crisis or during the war, our homeland, perhaps, try to drown out GPS signals interference. In this case, almost everything will depend on the effectiveness of measures to counteract the U.S. interference and on the ability to equip weapons NBGU additional guidance systems — and then it is a complex technological puzzle.

Another problem when using guns NBGU against missile silos would be overcome air and missile defense. Increase survivability NBGU tools will be based on its highest speed. But if the rate of penetrating ammunition when approaching the goal is very large (more than 1,000 meters per second), in contact with the ground it can undergo significant deformation or even collapse, which significantly reduce its combat effectiveness. For this reason NBGU systems, equipment penetrating warheads acts when approaching the target will slow down significantly compared with the cruising speed, thus increasing their vulnerability and ability to catch them.

So Makar, there are valid grounds to fluctuate in that instrument NBGU will represent a severe threat to Russian missile silos. Of course, even in this case, such a threat could come from other types of ordinary weapons. As the Russian analyst Yevgeny Myasnikov, at a theoretical level against mines can use different types of non-nuclear warheads, including cumulative warheads on cruise missiles, and the effectiveness of each of the systems should be considered separately. But given the political significance applets NBGU conclusion that created in the framework of its weapons fail guaranteed endanger missile silos, not without significance.

Whether threatens gun NBGU Russian ICBMs?

From about 1050 strategic nuclear warheads land-based which has Our homeland, about 20% are located on mobile launchers. Difficulties associated with the implementation tasks defeat mobile missile systems, vividly manifested in the «big hunt» Scud «during the war against Iraq in 1991. Then the United States Air Force was unable to reach either of the 1st confirmed hitting the target when attacking associated with such missiles objects, regardless of 1460 sorties, carried out specifically for their defeat. Since that time, the effectiveness of U.S. forces and equipment to deal with mobile targets increased substantially. But as before there is a good reason for hesitation is that the South American intelligence and surveillance systems, capable of operating from outside the theater of operations, can identify and track down moving missiles with sufficient reliability to ensure their effective loss (although, of course, because the highest secrecy of these systems at least some discussion of their abilities is certainly very indicative nature).

Drone X-51A WaveRider (USA)

More promising means of tracking mobile missiles bolshennom distance are satellite radars. Although at the present time the United States does not have a sufficient number of satellites, their desired amount is not so great, that these systems can not be deployed. Over the past 15 years in the U.S. has developed a number of plans for the creation of groups of satellite radar capable of practically in continuous follow mostly areas of the planet. In a very important report on NBGU, prepared in 2008 by order of Congress, National Research Council of the State Academy of the United States noted that the last of these programs — «Space Radar» — should improve the ability of the U.S. to identify mobile targets with «episodic» to «relatively reliable. » But in the same 2008 programm was closed: of course, it came out in the period between the end of the report and its publication. No other applets to replace it, apparently, has not appeared, and, taking into account the current financial realities, it is unlikely to appear.

In the foreseeable future, the only real means of detecting mobile missiles and tracking of funds remain airborne manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. But against Russia, a country with a highly tremendous air defense system, such an approach is unlikely to be workable, (especially after a not so long ago were shelved plans for the substitution of aging aircraft E-8 with a single radar surveillance system, targeting and fire control JSTARS ). In short, if the U.S. does not develop a reliable system for the detection and tracking of mobile targets, weapons NBGU — or any other high-precision weapons systems — are unlikely to pose a severe threat to the Russian mobile nuclear forces after their dispersal.

Possible options

Despite all these technical arguments, presentation of American and Russian professionals on strategic planning with respect to the degree of danger NBGU and other systems of ordinary precision weapons pose to nuclear forces are significantly different. In part, this is almost certainly due to differences in the initial assumptions of each party. The Russian side, of course, worried about the possibility of unexpected non-nuclear strike in peacetime, when interference to GPS is not included, the air defense system is not listed in the inflated state of alert, and mobile missiles dispersed. Latin American experts at the same, if they are thinking about preparing such impact, in contrast, must proceed from the fact that the Russian armed forces will be in the over-alert mode. Necessary practical arrangements for the Russian side in the belief that the system will not create NBGU danger to its nuclear forces.

Ultimately, the most effective of the available methods to ensure the survival of Moscow its nuclear forces in the criteria for improving everyday weapons in the U.S. are acts on the principle of «help for himself.» Namely, the above analysis allows us to represent that dispersed mobile ICBMs are more likely to survive than based missiles. Moreover, if a severe danger to the missile silos can make any system of ordinary weapons, the problem will only grow worse when equipped with silo-based missiles multiple warheads. For this reason the Russian side it is worth considering whether it meets the true interests of the latest development of the heavy silo-based ICBMs with multiple reentry warhead or her best to continue to invest in new mobile systems. In addition, Our homeland could see the question of transferring a small portion of their own mobile ICBM mode unchanged over-readiness, even in peacetime.

Chance and implementation of joint measures to increase the conviction that the deployment of the U.S. system NBGU not affect badly on survival Russian nuclear forces. One of the most effective means of strengthening trust would include all arms NBGU to settle on the brand new Russian-American treaty on arms control. But, as the existing differences on missile defense system is still not eliminated the possibility of concluding such contracts is small, and is, at least in the near future this way of solving the problem will not likely NBGU.

Fortunately, there are other options probable cooperation. The first priority is to establish a dialogue between Washington and Moscow NBGU. Because programm is still not out of the R & D stage is stored and political soil in order to make our homeland explained U.S. preconditions own concerns, and the United States developed this program from such makarom that she represented the least danger to Russia. This does not mean that the United States must provide RF veto on the question of adoption of a systems NBGU. Refers to the fact that the Obama administration can show flexibility on the issue of how this example program will be implemented.

Within the designated dialogue could also develop some confidence-building measures, such as data exchange, declarations and joint research. Other steps, namely notification of launches and inspections could remove other potential hazards associated with NBGU, including the possibility that our homeland incorrectly perceive NBGU tool for complex, filled nuclear weapon.

Confidence-building measures could be legally or politically binding character, and agree they can be comparable in rather short time. Another advantage of this approach is that some of these measures are useful for extension to other non-nuclear capabilities, namely long-range cruise missiles. The United States, of course, would not agree to set binding limits on these weapons, but taking into account the ongoing work in Russia in this area they are interested in improving transparency in this area. As a result, a number of confidence-building measures, such as data exchange, restrictions on basing, notices about the movements of the respective arms could wear mutual and means and, of course, mutually temper.

Exchange of data on high-precision weapons, including cruise missiles and systems NBGU could enfold information on their acquisition and deployment. On the first question the parties may agree on the exchange of information regarding plans for the purchase of agreed types of high ordinary weapons, say, the coming 5 years. It would be possible to agree on the preparatory and, for example, for the year, notification of the configurations in such plans. Coupled with those three Russian analyst Alexei Arbatov, Vladimir Dvorkin, Sergei Oznobischev — have offered to share data on the practice of placing high-precision weapons on ships, submarines and aircraft. This can be achieved, for example, through the exchange of data on several types of high mundane weapons deployed in certain theaters.

Cooperation measures to assist and resolve any technical differences between fact Russia and the United States about the dangers to silos from the ordinary high-precision weapons, such as cruise missiles or systems NBGU. Namely, to try to remove the concerns on the issue of the Academy of the United States and Russia could conduct a joint investigation. If it does not remove differences further step may be joint experiments, for example, the real undermining such ammunition near layout simulating cover mine.

Confidence-building measures are useful no matter if it will work the U.S. and Russia sign a new contract for arms control. Moreover, the running mechanism of cooperation and starting to settle disputes, they raise the chances of achieving such a contract.


There is a real danger that the situation davneshnimi disagreements between the U.S. and Russia on missile defense against NBGU again and maybe other precision ordinary weapons. Analogy here are obvious. And the defense, and non-nuclear strategic weapons cause in Russian society deep strategic concern about the survival of the nuclear forces of the country. And in both cases the effects of these concerns are reflected in the bilateral relations in general.

If the establishment of an American missile defense system will continue to pass slower than expected (as evidenced, namely, the recent abolition of the fourth phase of plans for the «phased adaptive approach for Europe»), precision instrument everyday can take the place of missile defense as a stimulus to the brain Strategic Relations between Russia and the United States. Avoiding such a result, of course, in the interests of Moscow and Washington.

Fortunately, in terms of finding solutions NBGU between applets and defense, there is one important difference: the first is still in the R & D stage. The decision on the adoption of a system of some NBGU not reached, and their deployment, if any, will be held, will begin no earlier than 10 years. As a result, the possibility of successful cooperation on this matter is higher than on the missile defense system, which is already being deployed. But the window does not stay open abilities forever. Russia and the U.S. should use it as soon as possible.

James Acton

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